Super-producer Mark Ronson is teasing a collaboration with Miley Cyrus and now the two have announced they will be the musical guest on the December 15 episode of Saturday Night Live, hosted by Matt Damon. A brief clip of the music was posted to Twitter when Ronson tweeted a disco ball that looked like a broken heart. The music featured strong orchestra sound that probably harkens back to the mid-1960’s, one of Ronson’s sweet spots. The two are calling their collaboration The Heartbreak Era.
Although some are questioning why Ronson would choose to work with Cyrus, her vocal chops are more than on point. No matter what you think about her music, origin story, and various forays into country and rap, it’s clear she can straight up sing.
Miley Cyrus seems destined to veer between “love her” and “hate her” for her entire career. Let’s take a look at the many eras of Miley Cyrus.
Era: I Am the Safe TV Star Your Kids Love
It took Cyrus time to climb the ladder of Disney star to legitimate pop stardom. Cyrus was a superstar before she could even consent to what was happening to her from an artistic perspective. The child star of Hannah Montana made teen music that was beloved by anyone under age 14. This didn’t necessarily jibe with her personal sensibilities. As she notes, ”At 13, 14 years old, I had to sing ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.’ I realized I didn’t want to make records like that again.”
Era: I’m a Bad Girl
Cyrus, like many a child star before her, decided to shed her Disney image by steering so hard into Bad Girl territory that she overcorrected. The bump and grinding, boob-cone wearing Cyrus invited parodies, but the end result was Bangerz, an album that sold 1.1 million copies and was the No. 1 album in the world. With the ubiquity and throw-down nature of No. 1 hit “Wrecking Ball,” Cyrus achieved pop culture relevance far greater than her days anchoring the pre-teen juggernaut that was Hannah Montana.
Era: No, I’m a REALLY Bad Girl
From the high of Bangerz, Cyrus inexplicably decided to embrace a persona that could best be described as “I like sex and I smoke pot!” This produced the total flop of an album known as Dead Petz. In some sense, this turn is typical of many young people navigating the phase between teenager and young adult. For most people, this happens in college, when the goal becomes proving how edgy you are by smoking weed. For Cyrus, it happened on stage, and included concerts where she wore a unicorn phallus on stage. This era pushed a lot of people back into the “hate her” category.
Era: I’m Wholesome Enough for Liam Hemsworth
However, Cyrus didn’t totally crash and burn until her next album, Malibu, where she totally disclaimed any association with the raunchy hip-hop that made her a worldwide pop star. The album featured a newly-wholesome Miley wearing white sweaters and singing extremely limp Cheryl Crowe songs. She described the album as “picturesque lyrics like Dolly’s meets Roy Orbison meets The Beach Boys” and it pretty much missed the mark on all of that. The album, which coincided with her reunion with Liam Hemsworth, rubbed a lot of people the wrong way because she pretended that Bangerz and Dead Petz didn’t represent her at all when it was clear, they were her choices and part of her own personal evolution.
Fast forward to 2018, when Ronson clearly sees something in Cyrus. And why shouldn’t he? Her prior Saturday Night Live performances made her a favorite of Lorne Michaels, and she ably covered Dolly Parton, Paul Simon, and Bob Dylan. Ronson was spotted in the studio with Cyrus in May, but the project was not confirmed until late November.